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EOC makes EIA recommendations

Thu, 08/16/2018

EOC policy and budget recommendations focused on strengthening the teaching profession and improving student outcomes

EDITOR’S NOTE: The EOC held a full meeting yesterday at 1:00 p.m. at the Blatt Building in Columbia. Recommendations to the budget were made at this meeting.

Columbia – As required by state law, the Education Oversight Committee today approved budget recommendations for Fiscal Year 2018-19. These recommendations focus on the revenues generated by the one-cent sales tax, the Education Improvement Act. The committee’s recommendations are dedicated to improving educational opportunities for students and to supporting the teaching profession. These recommendations will be forwarded to the Governor and General Assembly for their consideration in the upcoming budget deliberations.

Members met throughout the fall, reviewing and hearing public comment on the budget needs. In Fiscal Year 2018-19 the penny sales tax is expected to generate a total of $837 million, or an increase of $39.8 million, dedicated solely to public education. The additional requests totaled $88.6 million.

“The committee had to prioritize state funding to the most critical tasks facing our schools today – ensuring that all students graduate college, career and citizenship ready and that we work to strengthen the teaching profession,” stated Dr. Bob Couch, chair of subcommittee that brought forth the recommendation to the EOC and newly elected Vice-Chairman of the EOC.

“Fixing the teacher shortage in our state will take more than money,” stated Couch, an Anderson educator.” “The working conditions of educators cannot be overlooked, and are often a better indicator of why teachers leave the classroom.” The EOC recommendations include the implementation of a statewide survey among teachers of working conditions.

The Committee’s budget recommendations for the EIA are summarized below:

Strengthening the Teaching Profession

  • Increasing the state minimum teacher salary from $30,113 to $32,000 for a beginning teacher at a cost of $8.7 million;
  • Increasing the number of Teaching Fellows scholarships from 200 to 215. The mission of the South Carolina Teaching Fellows Program is to recruit talented high school seniors into the teaching profession and help them develop leadership qualities. Each year, the program High school seniors who have exhibited high academic achievement, a history of service to their school and community, and a desire to teach in South Carolina, are the recipients. Total increase: $360,000; and
  • To determine why teachers are leaving the classroom, especially during the first five years of their career, the EOC proposes an anonymous Working Conditions Survey be implemented throughout the state. The results of the survey would also guide policymakers in addressing the teacher shortage. Cost of the survey: $250,000.

Improving Student Outcomes

  • Increased funding of $13.1 million for charter schools to reflect increased enrollment;
  • Increase in funding of $11.0 million for technical assistance, to support the bottom 10% of schools identified as underperforming or Unsatisfactory in November of 2018;
  • Increased funding for technology infrastructure of $3.0 million;
  • Increased funding of $250,000 to expand STEM initiative in the Upcountry and Coastal Pee Dee areas of our state;
  • Increased funding of $500,000 for year-round arts education programs and support for arts programs in our state; and
  • $3.0 million for industry credentials to ensure that the state pays for exams that high school students take to earn industry credentials needed for the available jobs in our state.

The SC Education Oversight Committee is an independent, non-partisan group made up of 18 educators, business persons, and elected leaders. Created in 1998, the committee is dedicated to reporting facts, measuring change, and promoting progress within South Carolina’s education system.